‘To Save the Soul of America’: Justifying the Vietnam War in History, Society, and Memory

Delivered at the annual Graduate Student History Conference at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in February, 2013

The Vietnam War has long been disputed terrain in American history and memory. As early as the late 1960s, scholars and activists like Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and Frances Fitzgerald were arguing that the war was an “unnecessary and unwinnable” one.[i] The publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 further entrenched this idea in the academic community as Americans began to realize just how untenable the situation overseas truly was. By the early 1980s, however, a revisionist school arose to challenge this orthodox interpretation. Historians and military personnel like Ralph Smith, Norman Podhoretz, and Grant Sharp argued that the reasons for entering Vietnam were morally and strategically sound and that the “war was not won by the other side” but “lost in Washington, D. C.” as government officials were forced to acquiesce to the demands of a fickle and ill-informed vocal minority.[ii] For revisionists, Vietnam was not an unwinnable war but a “noble cause” that would have ended in victory had Americans supported the war rather than listening to the angry chants of a vocal minority in the anti-war movement.[iii]

This historiography is, I argue, the product of a larger historical process in which presidential administrations, the American public, and Vietnam veterans attempted to justify their role and that of their nation in the war both to themselves and to their society. The evolution of this process over time was, for the most part, defined by presidential rhetoric and the domestic reaction to that rhetoric. Such rhetoric began in the early years of American involvement in Vietnam by justifying that involvement as a moral imperative within the larger context of the Cold War fight against communism. With the rise in opposition to the war in the mid-1960s, presidential rhetoric began to shift under the Nixon administration to defining the Vietnam War as a moral imperative that must be ended honorably. As American objectives in the war became more untenable, the Nixon administration justified its own failures by blaming the anti-war movement for preventing it from making decisions to effectively execute the war out of concern for the impact those decisions would have domestically. The movement responded by arguing that the war was, in fact, unwinnable. Though these ideas were powerful rhetorical tools in political and academic debates, however, they were of far more profound consequence to the soldiers who fought in the war. For those men who returned from combat, the domestic debates they found upon their homecoming helped give real meaning to the bitter memories they had of their time overseas.

Before examining the memories of these soldiers, however, it is necessary to understand the nationwide process of justification that they entered upon returning to the United States. This process began in the early 1950s by justifying American involvement as a moral imperative. This justification was partially informed by historical considerations. The chief actors involved deliberately attempted to place Vietnam into an easily understood historical context. Comparisons of Vietnam to recent events abounded. In a 1954 letter to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower compared the failure of America’s allies to assist French forces in Vietnam to the failure prior to the Second World War “to halt Hirohito, Mussolini and Hitler by not acting in unity and in time.”[iv] Like that earlier failure, the failure to halt Communism’s spread to Vietnam would unleash “many years of stark tragedy and desperate peril” that Eisenhower believed could have been avoided had the nations of the world “learned something from [the] lesson[s]” of that earlier time.[v] Thus, America’s involvement in Vietnam became a moral obligation akin to avoiding a repetition of the appeasement of Neville Chamberlain’s Munich and fighting the barbarous regimes that had slaughtered millions of innocent people only a few years earlier.

Such comparisons were important rhetorical devices in the case for American involvement in Vietnam and represent an early attempt to integrate the war into a larger historical narrative. They were not nearly as important, however, as contemporary considerations that operated within a Cold War context that were chiefly informed by the foreign policy concerns of what would become known as the ‘domino theory.’ The domino theory, first espoused by the Eisenhower administration, placed Vietnam at the center of an American attempt to halt the spread of Communism in the early years of the Cold War. According to Eisenhower in a 1954 press conference, the fall of China to Communist forces would be followed by that of Vietnam should the Americans fail to intervene as they had in 1949. The fall of Vietnam would then initiate the “beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences” around the globe.[vi] With the loss of Vietnam, Eisenhower explained, came the loss of Asia, the Pacific, and perhaps the entire world. The “possible consequences,” Eisenhower concluded, were “incalculable to the free world.”[vii] The United States was involved in Vietnam, then, not simply out of a sense of strategic necessity but of moral obligation to the peoples of every country that relied upon American forces to stave off the insidious spread of Communism during the Cold War.

Such justifications would play a large role in shaping presidential rhetoric regarding Vietnam for many years to come. The analogy of an “envelope” used by historian John Prados to describe how “developments during the Eisenhower administration in 1954-1955 not only conditioned later events but also played a key role in the minds of central actors” is an appropriate one even though it was originally used to describe the military (rather than domestic) concerns of the war.[viii] The moral justification set forth by the Eisenhower administration largely defined the parameters of the envelope in which subsequent administrations operated. As such, when these administrations attempted to justify the war on moral grounds they echoed his comparison of the situation in Vietnam to that of the Second World War and strongly supported the domino theory in describing the global threat of Communism should Vietnam fall.[ix]

With the rise of the radical student protest movement in the early 1960s, however, these previously accepted moral justification for the war came to be resoundingly challenged. Early statements by movement organizations like the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) emphasized their own sense of moral rectitude over that of the established liberal machine under Presidents Kennedy (and later Johnson). The 1962 Port Huron Statement, for example, began with the declaration that “unlike youth in other countries” Americans were “used to moral leadership being exercised and moral dimensions being clarified by [their] elders.”[x] These “preachments,” they continued, no longer “seem[ed] adequate to the forms of the present.”[xi] They had become, the SDS argued, a tool for the perversion of the popular democratic structures by leaders (even liberal ones like John F. Kennedy) of the American government.

In the Port Huron Statement and many subsequent ones issued by New Left movements like the SDS, American involvement in Cold War struggles like the one in Vietnam were highlighted as particularly immoral distortions of the popular will. “Not even the President,” SDS president Paul Potter declared in a 1965 speech, could say that American actions in Vietnam were taken “to defend the freedom of the Vietnamese people.”[xii] The “saccharine self-righteous moralism” that justified American involvement in Vietnam was belied by the “economic and social destruction and political repression” that the United States had brought overseas. This “incredible war,” Potter continued, “severed the last vestige of illusion that morality and democracy [were] the guiding principles of American foreign policy.”[xiii] Instead, it was guided by what Potter called a “system” that promoted the repression of anti-establishment voices throughout history both at home and abroad.[xiv] Historically, it had ensured the destruction of American Indians and the enslavement of African Americans. Contemporarily, it ensured the unequal status of women, people of color, and the lower classes at home. Abroad, in Vietnam, it protected America’s imperial interests and pursued a “pattern of repression and destruction” that could “only be called cultural genocide.”[xv] American involvement in Vietnam was thus placed in a historical narrative that emphasized the perceived hypocrisy of the administration’s moral justifications for the war. Thus, the anti-war movement argued, the war in Vietnam could no longer be justified as a moral imperative.

As the anti-war movement reached its height under the Johnson administration, administration officials lashed out at those within the movement. In a memorable speech at a Democratic fundraising dinner in 1966, President Johnson labeled the anti-war movement a group of “Nervous Nellies” that had “become frustrated and bothered” and “[broken] ranks under the strain” of America’s responsibilities overseas.[xvi] Despite such seemingly easy dismissals, however, the impact of the growing opposition to the war is evident in the lives and writings of Johnson and those within his administration. Perhaps the most vivid example is that of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Though he played a key role in the escalation of the war, by 1966 McNamara was growing ever more doubtful of the role of the United States in Vietnam. This doubt began with his commission of what would eventually become the Pentagon Papers to discover the roots of the war’s difficulties and ended with his resignation in 1968 after spending months pacing his office, staring at the photograph of Defense Secretary James Forrestal (who had committed suicide under the burdens of his responsibilities), and weeping. The administration had “acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation,” McNamara would conclude in a 1995 interview, “yet we were wrong, terribly wrong.”[xvii] The war had, in the words of historian James Patterson, “savaged the self-confidence of the most certain of men.”[xviii]

For his own part, Johnson vacillated between despair and optimism, “obsessed by the carnage” in Vietnam and desperate to justify his own actions in its escalation.[xix] In his public appearances, he relied ever more frequently on the tropes of moral justification provided to him by earlier administrations. “When [World War II] ended,” he declared in a 1965 speech at a Democratic fundraising dinner in Chicago, the United States “found [itself] with continued responsibility for the defense of freedom.”[xx] That meant helping any of those nations fighting Communism around the globe. Vietnam fell squarely into that category. They were, Johnson argued, victims of the “unparalleled brutality” of Communism’s “deepening shadow.”[xxi] America’s objective, he concluded, was “the independence of South Viet-Nam and its freedom from attack . . . we want nothing for ourselves.”[xxii] These attempts to justify his actions continued throughout the remainder of his life. His recollection of the decision to escalate troop levels in Vietnam, for example, was pervaded by references to the “concerns and anxieties” he felt over his decision to take the most appropriate action in Vietnam.[xxiii] Such decisions were made, he recalled, with a sense that they were only morally correct course of action.

Though the activities of the anti-war movement had an obviously personal impact on the thoughts and memories of administration officials in the early years of the movement’s existence, by the late 1960s and early 1970s the movement’s power in American society at large had disintegrated. Hounded by internal divisions that split the movement and (in the words of scholar and former SDS president Todd Gitlin) “squandered its own values,” anti-war protestors faded from view just as President Richard Nixon began to shift presidential rhetoric in a direction that would ultimately blame them — rather than government officials — for America’s difficulties in Vietnam. According to the narrative this rhetoric constructed, the anti-war movement’s opposition to American involvement in Vietnam had prevented government officials from effectively executing the war for fear of domestic reprisals. Now, Nixon would be forced to secure only an “honorable end” to the conflict, rather than victory.[xxiv] By their actions, student protestors had not only tacitly supported the spread of Communist tyranny around the world; they had recklessly wasted the legacy of those who had fought against fascist tyranny only a few years previously. If they had simply minded their own business, the war could have been won years ago and that legacy would have been preserved. At best, they were ungrateful children rejecting a society that knew better than them and, in the process, causing chaos and suffering in the country that had protected them. At worst, they were Communist sympathizers.

Nixon’s Vice President Spiro T. Agnew was an especially effective partisan in the composition of this score. In his speeches, he frequently referred to student protestors as an “effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize[d] themselves as intellectuals” but were really “nattering nabobs of negativism” that just wanted to make trouble.[xxv] They did not represent the true interests of the American public. They were, Agnew asserted, only a vocal minority, a sentiment given full voice by his president in numerous speeches. Student protestors, Nixon declared in one, must not be allowed to sully their fathers’ legacy and continue their “mindless attacks on all the great institutions which have been created by free civilizations in the last 500 years.”[xxvi] They must not be allowed, he continued in his famous 1969 speech on Vietnamization, be allowed to drown out the voices of “the great silent majority” of the population. “Let us be united . . . against defeat,” he proclaimed, “only Americans can . . . defeat or humiliate the United States.”[xxvii]

The reshaping of Eisenhower’s moral justifications for American involvement in Vietnam that is evidenced in the rhetoric of Agnew and his president was useful to the administration for a variety of reasons. Initially, it allowed it to continue operating within the justifying envelope created by President Eisenhower almost two decades previously, while diffusing the contemporary influence of anti-war challenges to that envelope in the broader American public. American involvement in Vietnam was still founded in a Cold War moral imperative, but it could no longer be won because of the misguided actions of the radical (possibly Communist) Left. More importantly, however, such a narrative allowed the Nixon administration to tap into growing resentment among conservative Americans toward radical anti-war protestors and tie it not only to the imminent loss of American international prestige as the war in Vietnam came to an end but also to the perceived moral laxity that had caused so many problems at home.

For modern readers aware of Nixon’s ability to blame anyone but himself for his own failings (see, for example, his farewell address), such rhetoric may not seem all that believable.[xxviii] It is also important to note, furthermore, that (despite his language) Nixon may have been just as personally affected by opposition to the war as his predecessor was. Like Johnson, he made an effort to appear otherwise. For example, he once told people he had watched a Redskins game during a large demonstration in Washington and actively used the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track and frustrate the anti-war movement’s activities throughout his presidency. During the widespread student protests against the Cambodia invasion, however, it was clear that he was (in the words of Todd Gitlin) mentally “shell-shocked.”[xxix] Indeed, it was at this particular time that presidential aides discovered their leader having a long series of discussions with protestors at the Lincoln Memorial about “India, surfing, and football” at five o’clock in the morning after a sleepless night in the White House.[xxx] Evidently, the chants of Nixon’s enemies could be ignored for only so long in the mind of someone as famously paranoid and desperate for approval as he.

For conservatives at the time desperate to justify their nation’s perceived humiliation and moral decrepitude, however, Nixon’s mental state was of little concern in light of the galvanizing content of his message. As such, the radical student movement became an eagerly accepted scapegoat. Members of this silent majority repeated Nixon’s concerns in numerous contemporary interviews.[xxxi] “Middle Americans” like Joe Kelly (a New York construction worker), for example, echoed his president’s language in “hop[ing] that [student protestors] g[a]ve Nixon the play to go in there in Cambodia and knock the living hell out of their supply lines.”[xxxii] If that was what it took “to stop the loss of American lives,” he continued “let’s go the hell in there and get it over with” just as his country had done at the end of the Second World War by dropping the atomic bomb.[xxxiii]   Such sentiments would ultimately be added to the voices of the rising New Right where, historian Lisa McGirr argues, support of the Vietnam War against the agitations of the radical student movement became one part in a larger “shift in focus” that “represented not fundamentally new concerns but rather new terrains of struggle on which conservative[s] . . . sought to articulate their vision of the world.”[xxxiv] This shift was epitomized by its leader Ronald Reagan’s successful campaign for the presidency in 1980, during which he called for a return to the strong moral values of America’s past in the aftermath of the radical student protest movement. It was also during this campaign that Reagan famously characterized the Vietnam War as a “noble cause” that would have ended in American victory had the anti-war movement been silenced.[xxxv]

It was in response to these political accusations that the idea of the war in Vietnam as an unwinnable one began to gain traction in the remnants of the New Left. Ultimately, it would find its way into the academy, where the orthodox and revisionist historians of the Vietnam War replayed the political battles of their time on professional terms. As historical scholarship, this debate is perhaps little more than an unnecessary distraction that adds little to our understanding of the process by which individuals perceived and justified their role in the execution of the Vietnam War. As an artifact of that process, however, it can illuminate the impact of such debates on our understandings of the war in terms of history, society, and memory. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the accounts of those who actually participated in the war, where the hearts and minds of Vietnam veterans became territory as disputed as the political and academic arenas they reentered upon returning to American society.

Indeed, if there was one thing the opponents and supporters of the war could agree on, it was that they were (in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. — a staunch opponent of the war) “deeply concerned about [American] troops there as anything else.”[xxxvi] They way they evidenced that concern in numerous pamphlets and interviews, however, was vastly different.[xxxvii] Members of the New Left urged those being shipped to Vietnam to avoid becoming like the “ordinary German soldier in occupied Europe” who “wasn’t especially cruel” but “became cruel . . . as the resistance movements grew.”[xxxviii] Instead, they urged soldiers to “draw [their] own conclusions from the things [they] s[aw], read, and hear[d].”[xxxix] Conservatives, on the other hand, called on soldiers to do everything in their power to protect the legacy of those who had fought before them to protect American freedom in their fight against the forces of Communism.[xl] Everyone in American society, it seemed, was attempting to understand the plight of soldiers within their own worldview. Ultimately, this attempt would find expression in an active effort throughout American society to remember the war in Vietnam as the heroic struggle of brave troops rather than as a humiliating defeat. The palatability of this image can be best seen in the creation of a Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial rather than a Vietnam War Memorial.

For their own part, those who fought in Vietnam created a narrative that emphasized the inability of anyone back home to understand or remember the Vietnam War for what it truly was. “There is a problem,” wrote Corporal George Walter Skakel wrote to his former alma mater the University of California, Santa Cruz’s student newspaper, “in that the majority of the American voting public doesn’t know what war is . . . and the murky pits it leaves on a man’s soul.”[xli] For soldiers like Skakel, the question of whether American involvement in Vietnam was moral or immoral was inconsequential. War brutalized the very notion of morality, forcing formerly ethical human beings to commit acts of cruel savagery in an effort to survive. The things soldiers had done were justified because they were helpless to resist the large forces at play in their everyday lives. They only thing they could hope for was a quick end to their suffering.

It was this final hope that led so many soldiers to accept the dominant political narratives upon their return to the United States. The idea that something had unnecessarily prolonged their suffering in Vietnam helped give meaning to their memories of the conflict. Beyond the frequent references to the inhumanity of war, the accounts veterans gave in the years after their return of their experiences overseas were filled with echoes of the domestic narratives they encountered upon their return. In 1981, for example, one veteran (among many others) had been clearly been influenced by the conservative narrative introduced by the Nixon administration. The thing he wondered most about the war wasn’t whether it was moral or immoral, winnable or unwinnable but “who . . . these people out here protesting [are] while there are guys in the Nam going through psychological and physical hell.”[xlii] “How can they say the war is unjust,” he asked, “how can [they] walk out of Nam and leave guys out in the field or missing in action?”[xliii] Another, influenced by the rhetoric of the New Left, remembered watching Rambo in 1985 (during which the main character asks a former Vietnam general if he was “gonna let us win this time”) and being horrified. The “bureaucrats didn’t put us into a winnable war and then tie our hands,” he said, “what they did was actually far worse . . . they put us into a war” that was “unwinnable.”[xliv]

It is clear from these accounts that the political and academic debates surrounding the Vietnam War go much farther than the contents of a speech or work of scholarship. They were actively used by individuals to give meaning to their experiences and justify their own roles in a highly controversial historical event. This use highlights the processes by which the Vietnam War (and other historical events like it) can be and were integrated into narratives that help contextualize its significance in history, society, and memory. This process has by no means ended, nor will it at any time in the foreseeable future. Indeed, the Vietnam War has (in the words of historian Phillip Catton) “served as a point of reference for arguments about the merits of U.S. involvement overseas” many times in the years since it ended.[xlv] Its comparison to the 2003 invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush by John Prados in his Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975 is only one prominent example among many.[xlvi] The people of the United States, obviously, are not finished justifying their war in Vietnam.

[i] P. E. Catton. “Refighting Vietnam in the History Books: The Historiography of the War.” OAH Magazine of History 18.5 (2004): 8.

[ii] Catton, 9.

[iii] Catton, 9.

[iv] “Dwight D. Eisenhower Appeals for British Help, 1954.” In Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, 2nd edition, edited by Robert J. McMahon, 117-122. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company: 1995, 120.

[v] “Eisenhower Appeals,” 120-1; 121.

[vi] “Eisenhower Explains the Domino Theory, 1954.” In Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, 2nd edition, edited by Robert J. McMahon, 122. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company: 1995.

[vii] “Eisenhower Explains,” 122.

[viii] John Prados. Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009, xi.

[ix] For examples of historical interpretations of the Vietnam War by Kennedy and Johnson see “John F. Kennedy Criticizes the South Vietnamese Government, 1963.” In Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, second edition, edited by Robert J. McMahon, 169-170. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1995. and “Lyndon B. Johnson Explains Why Americans Fight in Vietnam, 1965.” In Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, 2nd edition, edited by Robert J. McMahon, 210-213. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1995. For examples of their support of the domino theory, see Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines, eds., “Takin’ It to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader (3rd ed.; New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011): “John Kennedy and the ‘Domino Theory’,” p. 159. and “Johnson Explains” cited above.

[x] Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines, eds., “Takin’ It to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader (3rd. ed.; New York and Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 2011): The Port Huron Statement,” pp. 53.

[xi] “Port Huron Statement,” 53.

[xii] “The Incredible War,” 183.

[xiii] “The Incredible War,” 182.

[xiv] Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines, eds., “Takin’ It to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader (3rd. ed.; New York and Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 2011): Paul Potter, “The Incredible War,” pp. 186.

[xv] “The Incredible War,” 182.

[xvi] “Lyndon B. Johnson: Vietnam and the ‘Nervous Nellies.’” In The Failure of American Liberalism After the Great Society, edited by Marvin E. Gettleman and David Mermelstein, 413-418. New York: Vintage Books, 1967, 417.

[xvii] “Former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara Concludes That He Erred, 1995.” In Major Problems in American Foreign Relations Volume II: Since 1914, 5th edition, edited by Thomas G. Paterson and Dennis Merrill, 458-459. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 2000, 458.

[xviii] James T. Patterson. Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, 615.

[xix] Patterson, 633.

[xx] “Johnson Explains,” 211.

[xxi] “Johnson Explains,” 210.

[xxii] “Johnson Explains,” 211.

[xxiii] “Johnson Recalls His Decision to Commit Troops (1965), 1971.” In Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, 2nd edition, edited by Robert J. McMahon, 219-223. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1995. Originally published in Lyndon Baines Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969 (Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1971), 147-152, 220.

[xxiv] “Richard Nixon: Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida.” Richard Nixon: Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. Accessed November 10, 2012. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25968.

[xxv] Gitlin, 378.

[xxvi] “Nixon Explains the Cambodian Incursion, 1970.” In Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, 2nd edition, edited by Robert J. McMahon, 437-440. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1995, 439.

[xxvii] “Richard M. Nixon on Vietnamization, 1969.” In Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, 2nd edition, edited by Robert J. McMahon, 432-437. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1995, 437.

[xxviii] “President Nixon’s Farewell, 1974.” In Major Problems in American History Since 1945, edited by Robert Griffith, 568-571. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath and Company, 1992. (Nixon’s farewell address provided the first example of his infamous passive voice phrase “mistakes were made” that managed to absolve him, in his mind at least, of any blame for the Watergate Scandals, the war in Vietnam, or any other error during his time in the White House.)

[xxix] Gitlin, 410.

[xxx] Prados, 373.

[xxxi] See Peter Schrag. “The Forgotten American.” In A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America, 2nd edition, edited by William H. Chafe and Harvard Sitkoff, 395-407. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Originally published in Harper’s Magazine (Aug 1969).; Richard Rogin. “Joe Kelly Has Reached His Boiling Point.” In A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America, 2nd edition, edited by William H. Chafe and Harvard Sitkoff, 338-350. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Originally published in Murray Freedman, ed., Overcoming Middle-Class Rage (Westminster Press, 1971).; and Joseph C. Goulden. “Voices from the Silent Majority: Nixon’s Exclusive Constituency Speaks Up.” Harper’s Magazine. April, 1970. pgs 67-72, 77-78.

[xxxii] Rogin, 338; 342.

[xxxiii] Rogin, 342.

[xxxiv] Lisa McGirr. Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001, 186.

[xxxv] Catton, 9.

[xxxvi] Martin Luther King Jr. “A Time to Break Silence (1967).” In vol. 2 of A More Perfect Union: Documents in U.S. History, 5th edition, edited by Paul F. Boller, Jr. and Ronald Story, 207-213. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

[xxxvii] For New Left concerns about the state of soldiers, see Paul Jacobs and Saul Landau. “Vietnam Day Committee.” In The New Radicals: A Report with Documents, 253-266. New York: Vintage Books, 1966. For conservative concerns, see Schrag, Rogin, and Goulden cited above.

[xxxviii] Jacobs and Landau, 256.

[xxxix] Jacobs and Landau, 257.

[xl] See Schrag, Rogin, and Goulden cited above.

[xli] Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines, eds., “Takin’ It to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader (3rd. ed.; New York and Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 2011): George Skakel, “One Soldier’s View: Vietnam Letters,” pp. 169.

[xlii] “War Stories as Told by the Combatants, Collected 1981.” In Major Problems in American History Since 1945, edited by Robert Griffith, 413-420. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath and Company, 1992. Originally published in Mark Baker, NAM: The Vietnam War in the Words of the Men and Women Who Fought There (New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1982), 420.

[xliii] “War Stories,” 420.

[xliv] “Wrong, Rambo! A Vietnam Veteran Looks Back, 1985.” In Major Problems in American History Since 1945, edited by Robert Griffith, 420-422. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath and Company, 1992. Originally published inThomas J. Vallely, “Dishonoring the Vietnam Tragedy,” Boston Globe (10 Nov 1985), 421.

[xlv] Catton, 7.

[xlvi] See Prados, cited above.


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